Reporting Mai Martinez
CHICAGO (CBS) – There’s a new warning in Illinois over the meningitis outbreak linked to contaminated epidural steroids.
The tainted steroids were shipped to 23 states and have been linked to five deaths in Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia.
There are no reported cases in Illinois, but as CBS 2′s Mai Martinez reports, hundreds of patients at three Chicago-area facilities are being warned.
The APAC Center for Pain Management in Lincoln Park is one of the three sites where doses from a contaminated batch of epidural steroids were given to patients.
The facilities’ medical director says they took action as soon as they were notified of a recall.
“All the medicines were pulled last week,” Dr. Randolph Chang said Friday.
He says his centers then started notifying all patients – both by mail and phone calls — who were given the medication.
“We’re so far very lucky, very fortunate in our offices that we have no other cases,” Chang says.
State and local health officials in Illinois have also found no cases of the fungal meningitis linked to the contaminated steroid, but they’re continuing their investigation.
Dr. Michael Vernon of the cook County Department of Public Health says the symptoms generally begin a few days after patients receive the steroid injections, but it could take up to a month.
So far, the APAC centers are the only facilities in Illinois known to have received the steroids from the contaminated batches. Dr. Vernon says patients who show symptoms of meningitis, including worsening headaches, stiff neck or fever, should go to the hospital immediately.
Dr. Vernon also says it is important for the public to know the type of fungal meningitis associated with this outbreak cannot be transferred from person to person.